Monday, June 1, 2015

One big happy file

I could have titled this post, “To split or not to split, that is the question.”  A common question that comes in to Legacy is asking how to split a file.  Most people that want to split their file want to have their information in one file and their spouse’s family in another.

Why would you want to do that? It is much easier working with one file for three reasons.

  • You won’t have to switch back and forth between files when you are doing research.  This is especially inconvenient if you are looking at a records set that could contain both families.
  • You won’t have duplication between the files (your spouse and descendants).  If you update one file you will have to go in and update the other one.
  • If there is some sort of link between you and and your spouse sometime in the past it will be much easier for you to recognize that there is a link if everyone is in the same file.  If you find a connection it will take less than five seconds to actually create the link.  If you do find a link between the two families you will then have to put everyone in the same file anyway. Far fetched?  Not really.  There is a good chance that you will find a connection if you go far enough back.  If you look at your file in terms of your children your two families are already linked.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have more than one file.  I have my main file that has my personal family research in it.  I also have a file for my One-Name Study.  Technically these people are attached to my family tree but it is just easier to deal with this group of people separately because I use different research tactics and I have to look at all of this data in a different way.  I rarely take on clients anymore but when I do their information goes in separate files.  I have several test files because of my work with Legacy but most people won’t have that.

Unless you have one of these special cases you are better off keeping everything in one file.

Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Agreed. No matter which software program one uses this approach is best.

  2. And, if you have a tree at Ancestry, you are REALLY better off keeping everything in one file. All of the above applies; plus:
    While you can bring info from another person's tree onto your tree at Ancestry (which, of course one should be very careful about doing!), you cannot bring over info from another tree you have at Ancestry. Found that out the hard way as a newbie!